Fossil fuel producers’ plans far exceed 1.5C climate target

The world needs to cut by more than half its production of coal, oil and gas in the coming decade to maintain a chance of keeping global warming from reaching dangerous levels, according to a new United Nations-backed study.

The report published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on Wednesday found that while governments have made ambitious pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions, they are still planning to extract double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than what would be consistent with the 2015 Paris climate accord’s goal of keeping the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Production Gap report, which was released 10 days before the COP26 climate summit – billed as key to the viability of the Paris Agreement temperature goals – analysed 15 major fossil fuel producers: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

It said government fossil fuel production plans this decade are “dangerously out of sync” with the emissions cuts needed, warning that countries plan to produce, in total, some 110 percent more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting the degree of warming to 1.5C, and 45 percent more than is consistent with 2C.

Global gas production is projected to increase the most between 2020 and 2040.

Countries have directed more than $300bn in new funds towards fossil fuel activities since the beginning of the pandemic – more than they have towards clean energy.

“The research is clear: Global coal, oil and gas production must start declining immediately and steeply to be consistent with limiting long-term warming to 1.5C,” said Ploy Achakulwisut, a lead report author from the Stockholm Environment Institute.

“However, governments continue to plan for and support levels of fossil fuel production that are vastly in excess of what we can safely burn.”

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